Brainerd Lakes Chapter History
The Brainerd Lakes Chapter was formed in 2003 when Dave Anderson and Tim Brastrup (Co-founders) just happened to be at a presentation about FHNB given by Vance Balstad of the Bemidji FHNB Chapter. Tim and Dave talked it over and asked the question, "why aren't we doing this on Gull Lake?" While asking for ideas on how to set up out chapter, someone suggested calling Bob Slaybaugh at the Confidence Learning Center. That call resulted in one of the major keys to our success. Bob's expertise in arranging large events for people with disabilities and the agreement to be able to use the Camp facilities gave us a huge head start in getting our chapter going.
We were joined by 35 anglers in our inaugural year, 56 in 2004, 94 in 2005, 110 in 2006 and 121 in 2007 and over 120 every year since.
This event would not be possible without the generous support of our many sponsors and amazing volunteers who put in countless hours behind the scenes and at the event to make it all possible. Our boat captains generously provide their skills, equipment and time to ensure a safe and enjoyable event.
In January of 2007, chapter co-founder and president Dave Anderson turned over the chapter leadership to Scott Roesner who has been deeply involved in the chapter since the beginning in 2003. Scott is now the chapter president and committee chairman. Bob Slaybaugh has agreed to co-chair the chapter with Scott. Scott brings a wealth of experience and strong community connections to this position.
FHNB National Organization History
Bobby Cammack, who grew up on the Chippewa Flowage and was a fishing guide for nearly 40 years, founded the group in 1986 after he encountered a problem getting in and out of a boat with a broken leg. The first event was held in 1988 on the Chippewa Flowage near Hayward, Wisconsin with 80 people attending from seven states. From this first initial event it has now grown into a national organization with 27 chapters in thirteen states, helping thousands of disabled individuals participate fully in this recreational activity.
The first event held outside of Wisconsin took place in June of 1991 on Lake Oahe near Pierre, South Dakota. The Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce with the support of almost 500 volunteers sponsored it locally. About 100 disabled participants from eight states attended and were ecstatic about the event. additional FHNB event was held in Bemidji, Minnesota in August of 1991 with similar results. Thermopolis, Wyoming and Chicago, Illinois followed in 1992. Fishing has no boundaries; Inc. has had additional requests for information on events from other areas across America, as well as Australia, England and Canada. 1994 saw the expansion continue with Eagle River, Wisconsin joining the group, followed by Sandusky, Ohio and Madison, Wisconsin signing for 1995. Expansion continues to grow with chapters in Monticello, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio joining the organization in 1996. Arizona joined in 1997, Chippewa Valley, WI in 2000 with El Dorado, Kansas in 2002 and new chapters in Brainerd, MN and Columbus, Ohio added in 2003.
It is doubtful that the originator of FHNB knew the extent of the impact they would have on people with disabilities. What began as a dream has now developed into a series of events that can touch the hearts and lives of disabled and able-bodied persons alike. The concept unquestionably increases the quality of life for both groups of people.
FHNB events focus on educational fishing, providing persons with disabilities the opportunity to fish. Just as important, each event becomes a forum that creates public awareness and brings about needed change. Staging such an event requires strong support from local organizations (i.e. Chamber of Commerce, fishing club, civic group, etc.) with many local people as volunteers. For most volunteers it may be their first exposure to persons with physical or mental disabilities. With that kind of exposure, able-bodied volunteers quickly realize that in the end, people are people. They have the same dreams, wants and needs as anyone else. A large influx of disabled persons into a community will obviously create an economic plus and further heighten public awareness.
In January of 1991 Amerifish Corporation (Fishing has no boundaries, Inc.) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service. This agreement makes public lands more accessible to those with disabilities. The Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service also signed the MOA and have pledged their support to these efforts. Recognizing the need for national expansion, this agreement will allow Fishing Has No Boundaries, Inc. to participate in helping to increase the use of public lands within the agencies’ jurisdiction. In 1998, The Department of Forestry also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with FHNB, Inc. that will further enhance FHNB relationships with important agencies.
Persons with disabilities cross all lines of age, race, educational and income levels. Disabilities range from physical to mental, including birth defects, accident and military injuries. Through our contacts with the disabled community, we have learned that many disabled have the same needs for a positive self image, for the opportunity for self expression and for the genuine feeling of accomplishment. FHNB events are fulfilling those needs. The response from the disabled community and volunteers who have participated in these events has prompted the Fishing Has No Boundaries, Inc. to re-examine its goals and direction. Creating public awareness of disabilities and the problems facing those with disabilities has become a prime focus for our efforts. FHNB, Inc. is rapidly becoming a source for information on adaptive equipment and accessible sites as well.
Fishing has no boundaries, Inc. is a non-profit, non-stock, volunteer, organization dedicated to assisting the 53 million disabled individuals in the U.S.A. through the world of fishing and enjoying the great outdoors. FHNB, Inc. promotes access to the outdoors, nationwide, for the disabled by educating them of their abilities and by providing physical and mental support to further develop their confidence and abilities. Through research and development of special fishing equipment, dock loading systems, and boat adaptations, Fishing Has No Boundaries, Inc. is working diligently to create and provide access to all individuals regardless of their disability.
All of the above cannot be accomplished without financial support. In order to fill our financial requirements, we need supporters to join the FHNB, Inc. membership program, obtain grants, corporate sponsorships or donations. We have a long way to go and need help to accomplish our goals. An example would be our National Expansion Program - to create fishing events throughout the world and make people aware of the needs of the angler with disabilities. Making dreams come true for a disabled person can become a reality through dedicated efforts and support. Nothing is so rewarding as seeing a disabled individual come down the pier with a smile as big as all outdoors, knowing that this might not have happened if it were not for the Fishing Has No Boundaries concept through Fishing Has No Boundaries, Inc.